Roles for Health Sciences Librarians at College and University Libraries
Objectives: To meet the changing priorities of researchers and funding agencies, U.S. college and university libraries (C&ULs) that are not Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) members may want to hire librarians capable of supporting interdisciplinary health sciences research. This study sought to identify whether such roles are emerging by examining advertised position descriptions.
Methods: We collected position advertisements posted to job boards and mailing lists between September 1 2018 and March 1 2019. Positions that included one of these terms in the title, qualifications, or responsibilities were eligible for inclusion: medic*, health, life, nursing, veterinary, bio*, pharma*. We categorized postings by institution type, geographic region, and position type. We used grounded theory to identify themes within the data, and NVivo to quantify how often each theme appeared within the data.
Results: 104 job postings met our inclusion criteria: 60 at AAHSL institutions and 44 at C&UL institutions. Despite some minor variations among specific roles and responsibilities, we found substantial overlap in the qualifications listed for positions at both types of institution. Qualifications more often prioritized traditional librarian competencies rather than emerging areas, such as data science, grant support, and research impact.
Conclusions: Both AAHSL and C&UL institutions show an interest in hiring librarians capable of supporting health and life sciences teaching and research. Competition for a similar pool of applicants may create challenges for hiring officials, and librarians interested in these positions will likely seek out professional development opportunities in emerging areas of practice.